Our readers talk back.

Clark-Madison's SMA Story: F


I taught at St. Michael's for 10 years, and my last two years there I worked to revive the school newspaper. Were I still there, I would use Mr. Clark-Madison's article ["St. Michael's Passion," Dec. 14] as a negative example of reporting on a complex issue. Your readers should know that his is an extremely sloppy, tendentious investigation. Never does he quote any faculty member who would disagree profoundly with those he does quote. To quote someone such as former theology teacher Erin Tierney, who spent only a year at the school and had, at best, a limited understanding of events, is ludicrous. Many of us who left during Mr. Kennedy's tenure have been e-mailing each other, and it is obvious to us that Mr. Clark-Madison did not interview a single faculty member who would have offered a much different interpretation of what happened at the school.

One of the many ill effects of a poorly researched article such as Mr. Clark-Madison's is that it discredits other journalists' efforts by association. The next time I read an investigative piece in your publication, I will wonder if suffers from the same lapse in journalistic integrity as Mr. Clark-Madison's.


Richard Queen

St. Michael's Story One-Sided


Reading the recent article "St. Michael's Passion" [Dec. 14] brought up issues that I had hoped to leave behind. I, too, am an ex-teacher from the school. Much of what happened was and still is a mystery to me, but the article did little to uncover the truth. I know all the individuals quoted on both sides and had considered myself a friend to all of them. That was a difficult time for me, seeing my friends torn apart.

Mr. Kennedy hired me, and I am still very grateful to him. I do not know the reasons surrounding his departure, but to characterize that as the result of a "gag order" from the board of trustees is one-sided. I got the distinct impression that it was Mr. Kennedy and his attorney who insisted upon that.

I found Dr. Wallace to be very accommodating, and she offered written contracts to faculty and staff members by the first of March, fulfilling her promise that everyone was still welcome. Ironically, her biggest failing was her openness. Individuals who hadn't made any fuss about previous contracts now complained when they finally found out the details of those past appointments. Instead of acknowledging their ignorance, some decided to call it "change." Others felt threatened by the discussion of the school's Catholic identity, which I never understood since I, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon), never felt threatened for a moment.

Not all of us chose to leave because of the new school leadership. Some moved out of state with their families, and I accepted a position at ACC, a career opportunity I couldn't refuse. I miss my friends at St. Michael's and even those I used to call friends, who decided their pride was more important than educating children.

Scott Gibby

Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages

Rail Plans Are Really Weird!


re: "Naked City: Mo' Pain over MoPac," Dec. 14

de de de de. de de de de. Twilight Zone music.

On one hand we're talking about ramming rails up our busiest streets (Light Rail/Rapid Transit) and now we're going to talk about taking out the rail we have and putting in streets (HOV lanes on MoPac). We've got to be the Twilight Zone.

Seems like it would make more sense to put the trains on the existing tracks and keep the cars on the existing streets. I know, it makes too much sense.

Gail B. Armstrong

LCRA: Shallow Logic


Your statement ["Naked City," Dec. 21] that the diversion of Colorado River water to San Antonio would "increase water availability by 75%" sounds like it was taken straight from an LCRA press release. The proposed system relies on shallow, out-of-channel reservoirs to hold the water. Given the high evaporation rate from such reservoirs, it is not clear the proposed plan will increase water availability at all. The only guaranteed aspect of this insidious boondoggle is that someone will make a lot of money building it.

Philip Russell

'Buying Something' Helps Bigwigs


Re: "Naked City: Talking to the Invisible Hand," December 14, 2001:

I guess September 11 made a lot of people realize there is more to life then materialism. If most people are like my friends and me, we already have lots of stuff; every closet and drawer is overflowing and a storage shed filled to the brim. I don't think of myself as a big consumer -- in fact, I don't even like being called a consumer.

If you think "buying something" is going to help the economy, think again. The cashiers at most stores make around $7 per hour, managers make closer to $10-$15 an hour. You say there was a lot of money made at high tech companies. But don't we all know that at one high tech company in the Austin area most workers could not afford a $200,000 house when the owner lives in an $8 million house. The big bucks go to the bigwigs: i.e. corporate heads who already have millions and are apparently getting big tax breaks for their big corporation.

If you want to make your dollars count, "buy something" to help the environment or to help support local small business, artists, craftspeople, and farmers.

Kandis Beaber

Yellow Doughnuts, Anyone?


Round Rock's Lone Star Bakery -- source of those yellow donuts -- celebrated its 75th anniversary this year. Dale Cakes [sic] owns it now, but my grandfather (Reinhald Moekring) started the bakery in 1923 and owned it 'til 1960 -- and the doughnut recipe is his. Dale and his people designed a "Texas-y" new box -- great for donut gift-giving -- just add a tag.

The bakery's just off old Hwy. 81 in downtown Round Rock and catty corner from what used to be the "telephone office" -- my other grandmother's house when she was the telephone operator before dial phones. But that's a whole 'nother story.

Love your book.

Suzy Mackring [sic] Mallard

Lone Star Bakery

You Missed a Few, 'Chronicle'


I'm quite surprised, alarmed actually, that you failed to mention a few wonderful old Austin family run businesses that advertise regularly in the Chronicle ["20 Years of Austin Gifts," Dec. 7]! I've often thought that the staff should support diversity in Austin via an article like this but wow! There are some gaps!

Texas French Bread, 20-plus years, has employed artists, students, lifestyle lovers in Austin since the 80s!

Eclectic, 20-plus years, supports local artists by selling very cool handicrafts from Austin and abroad. Geoffrey Sowash, owner.

Sandy's Shoes, 20-plus years, North Burnet, is one of the biggest children's shoe stores in the country and the owner, David, has openly supported fair trade, high quality.

These are three examples off the top of my head -- this group of tenacious entrepreneurs -- the lifeblood of Austin's character, should be recognized & strongly supported so that we may avoid more tragedies like Les Amis, Mad Dog, Liberty Lunch, the Armadillo, etc.!

Thanks for your attention,

Katey Gilligan

Celebrating 26 Years in Austin ...


Celebrating 26 years in Austin is Rootin' Ridge Toymakers. 1206 West 38th, Suite 1105 (26 Doors Shopping Center). They specialize in unpainted wooden toys that are beautiful in their simplicity. Really nice folks, too: Paul and Georgean Kyle.

Happy Holidays to all the Chronicle staff!

Steve Janda

Da Bears!

Dear Coach and reader Alan Jones:

Nyah-nyah, you're both wrong about the Bears! While Mr. Jones corrects most of the Coach's faulty recollections (Dec. 14) in his "Postmarks" letter of Dec. 21 ["Sports Fight!"], he gives the wrong year. The Bears' last win over the Giants in the playoffs came at the end of the 1985 season, not 1984, and was in fact played in early 1986. Chicago went on to beat the L.A. Rams for the NFC title and then the Beantown Patriots in Super Bowl XX.

Unless the Coach was referring to the Bears' 1963 win over the Giants for the NFL crown. But that would make him as old as Bronko Nagurski.

Yours in navy and orange,

Kevin Hendryx

Liars and Statisticians


Re: "Babich vs. the World" ["Postmarks," Dec. 21, Internet edition]:

I found this missive from Ms. Babich rather amusing. I read her note very carefully and by her own numbers the population growth in Austin has declined in the 1980 to 2010 time frame. In all the other 20-year time periods in her little soliloquy the population doubled. Doubling in a 30-year time period indicates a decrease in the rate of population growth according to her numbers. Perhaps the disaster she hopes for has already occurred. Maybe the demise of the Intel building (sorry, Watson Memorial Grackle Roost)? Or the departure of the nut portion of the Watson Juggernut? Ahhh, liars and statisticians.

William Roberts

Bible Class at 3AM


Michael Ventura has a problem. He writes from the heart, his heart. Unfortunately it exists in a vacuum. He is so ignorant of what is actually happening in the world, he doesn't even know that he doesn't know.

His piece headed by a cartoon of Marines hoisting Jesus on a Cross ["Letters at 3AM," Nov. 16] was not only silly, it is an insult to the Iwo Jima Marines, four of whom gave their lives to protect this smarty-pants' right to indulge himself in nutty logic. Also, without any knowledge of the New Testament story to which he so blithely misreads. Quoting Jesus as the purveyor of sweetness and light alone is to have failed to read what the Gospel says. One of the world's most renowned reporters, John, wrote: "Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the Temple those that sold oxen, and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting. And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the Temple; and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the money changers' money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise."

Vehement attacks should, to have any weight at all, have some measure of factual information, readily available to those who are willing to learn instead of spout.


Tro Harper

Santa Rosa, Calif.

Thanks, Eddie Rodriguez!


Eddie Rodriguez has recently stepped down as executive director of the local Travis County Democratic Party. I am writing to thank him for all his hard work, and everything he has done for Democrats in Travis County. With Eddie Rodriguez as the executive director, local Democrats have enjoyed tremendous success in races all across the board -- state representatives, constables, commissioners, judges, etc. In his tenure, Eddie has rebuilt the local Travis Democratic Party. The party is in strong financial health and is overflowing with volunteers and energy. On behalf of myself and Democrats in Travis County, thank you Eddie Rodriguez for all that you have done.

Cecilia Crossley

Not So Fast, Mr. Gray


I read recently in "Dancing About Architecture" [Dec. 7] that Chris Gray is moving to New York City. It will be a shame for Austin to lose such a great writer, but I must ask you to not let him go until he reimburses me the $8.99 I feel he owes me. I went out and bought the October CD by U2 (because of the wonderful review he gave it in the Chronicle's U2 issue earlier this year), and it is not nearly as good as Mr. Gray led me to believe. Actually, it sucks. This restitution will be a symbolic gesture of him refunding each of the citizens of Austin the money his prodigious writing made them spend on crappy albums he recommended. It's $9.71 with tax. Thank you, and Merry Christmas.

Fuck, but that was a complicated joke.

Miss you, mean it,

Rob Gaines

Next Year: The Afghan Gift Guide


Now would be a good time to have The International Love Gathering in Afghanistan. We rent the biggest bulletproof warehouses. Put airport security on the doors ... and inside is a festivity going on with lots of free food, tents, heaters, and music floating through the air. I would like to see if I can convince Afghans to help me build and market my designs for Gravity Machines, Rotary Engines, Rotary Pumps, etc. ... they could easily change their weapons manufacturing outlets into productive outlets ... Also, I own three four cavity molds for mass production of The Brain Stimulator ... A folding hairbrush that could read, "Made in Afghanistan" for the next Christmas' stocking stuffers ... Connect with me at if you are interested in going or sending.

John Elton Bills

P.S. I thought your Japanese bombers dropping presents was great! But they were over the wrong city.

Do It for the Kids


One of a teenagers favorite pass times is going to concerts, but a lot of people my age do not have the money to actually go and see one. The ticket prices are so high that not everyone, even the biggest fans may not ever go to see their favorite band play a live show. Of course, if the prices were raised it would also benefit for many people.

With lower ticket prices, any and everyone can join in and see a live show, making kids happy and motivated to make their own music opening up their minds and expressing themselves. With more people at a show, more energy will be present making the experience greater. Just recently I went to the Incubus concert held at the Austin Music Hall. It was so fantastic but I did not see very many people my age there. The day after the concert I talked to everyone I knew and everyone wanted to go but they couldn't. The response I got the most from everyone was "I wanted to go so bad, but I couldn't afford a ticket." Of course you could always say the band will be back, but that's where you're wrong, Austin is known as the "live music capital of the world" but what I don't understand is that if we are, then how come we don't have a huge stadium such as the Alamodome where all the huge concerts are held? Sure we have the Frank Erwin Center but there are never any concerts there. Which means all the big bands (including Incubus) will never go back to Austin.

On the other hand if concert ticket prices raised up, then a lot of people would actually get a chance to see a concert, because tickets won't sell as fast giving others a chance to buy a ticket. I knew a couple of people that tried buying tickets to a concert that was only $18, but by the first week all the tickets were sold and the band wasn't even that popular. If the prices were raised, all the money made could benefit for improving the concert building or even better, for charity.

So in conclusion you could lower concert ticket prices giving a chance for anyone to go see a show. You could also increase the tickets giving people a greater chance of getting a ticket. Tickets are cheap enough as they are for concerts in Austin, but by raising them a few dollars, you could contribute that money to a charity to help out the needy. Also, for large concerts where tickets that cost over $100 a piece, ticket prices could be lowered. We all know teenagers can barely pay for lunch let alone pay $100 for a single ticket. Thank you for your time, and I hope you take this into consideration.


Adam Hovey

Raise Awareness of TANF


Please act or Texas may lose over $105 million in federal funds. Without these funds, the state will face a deficit of $168 million by 2005.

TANF funds in Texas are used for a wide variety of programs: from cash assistance and employment services to foster care and youth services.

Loss of the TANF supplemental funds will put all of these programs on the table next session for significant reductions.

Please call your Congressman or woman today and ask them to approve the bill that continues TANF Supplemental Grants to Texas (S.942).

If your Representative is a member of the Ways and Means Committee, please ask him to contact Rep. Thomas, R-Calif., chair of the Committee, and urge him to allow the Senate bill to move directly to the House floor this week.

You should also contact:

  • Speaker Hastert, 202/225-2976,

  • Representative Armey, 202/225-4000

  • Representative DeLay, 202/225-0197

    and ask them to approve the bill that continues TANF Supplemental Grants to Texas.

    To reach any House or Senate office, you can call the main switchboard at the Capitol -- 202/224-3121. Once you've been connected, ask to speak with the person who handles welfare.

    For more information on TANF Supplemental Grants, see this recent Center [for Public Policy Priorities] analysis. Other TANF materials at: or contact Patrick Bresette at the Center, 512/320-0222 or

    Amanda Winters

    Oil's Slick, Slippery Slope


    Re: "Hightower Lowdown: Democracy or Autocracy?" (Dec. 21):

    The important lessons learned from America's addiction to cheap oil was that it led to our war on terrorism, and incidentally to Attorney General Ashcroft's exposure as a mouse hell-bent on becoming a rat.

    T.S. Corin

    Ourselves & Austin in 2002


    A year has come and gone here in Groovy Austin, and we are all changed for it. Some for the better, some for the worse, but all changed forever. Our hearts have been broken by the loss of people who were so important to us all, Mambo, Champ, Billy, Shoe-Shine Charlie, and the thousands we watched in horror die in New York. But as in all loss, there is a comfort in knowing that some day, all too soon, we will walk into a room and hear the music of those past again. We will see those who fought so hard to live again, healthy, happy, and well, smiling and welcoming us to the "Best New Music Venue."

    I spent July 4 in Zilker park with about 40,000 other people who all, as one, laughed and smiled at the most excellent fireworks over the lake, on an absolutely perfect night. I walked back to the car buzzing from the contact high of being around so many people who had, for the moment, left their worries and cares behind and actually got out of their SUVs and had some fun. Not isolated by air-conditioning and tinted windows, but sitting out under the stars with people they never met, enjoying the night together as friends. I've seen the smiles of the faces of Shelley King, Jane Bond, Toni Price as they nailed a note and knew it, like masters tossing out treats to their fans, sharing something special with them. I have seen acts of kindness and compassion carried out by ordinary people just because it was the right thing. All in all, with all our problems and difficulties, we are damned lucky to be smart enough to live in this wonderful place. As always the New Year will bring us both joy and sorrow. All you can do is pray that the sorrow is not more than you can bear, and that the joy is more than you thought possible.

    Peace campers,

    Carl Swanson

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